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Full text of "Men Of Mathematics"

ARITHMETIC  THE  SECOND
imparted to young Kummer. Under Scherk's guidance Kummer
soon abandoned his moral and theological studies in favour of
mathematics. Echoing Descartess Kummer said he preferred
mathematics to philosophy because 'mere errors and false views
cannot enter mathematics.* Had Kummer lived till to-day he
might have modified his statement, for he was a broadminded
man, and the present philosophical tendencies in mathematics
are sometimes curiously reminiscent of medieval theology. In
his third year at the University Kummer solved a prize problem
in mathematics and was awarded his Ph.D. degree (10 Sep-
tember 1831) at the age of twenty-one. No university position
being open at the time, Kummer began his career as a teacher
m his old Gymnasium.
la 1832 he'moved to Liegnitz, where he taught for ten years
in the Gymnasium. It was there that he started Kronecker off
on his revolutionary career. Fortunately Kummer was not so
hard up as Weierstrass under similar circumstances and was
able to afford postage for scientific correspondence. The eminent
mathematicians (including Jacobi) with whom Kummer shared
his mathematical discoveries saw to it that the young genius of
a school teacher was lifted into a more suitable position at the
earliest opportunity, and hi 1842 Kummer was appointed
Professor of Mathematics at the University of Breslau. He
taught there till 1855, when the death of Gauss caused exten-
.sive revisions in the mathematical map of Europe.
It had been assumed that Dirichlet was contented at Berlin,
then the mathematical capital of the world. But when Gauss
died, Dirichlet could not resist the temptation of succeeding the
Prince of Mathematicians and his own former master as pro-
fessor at GSttingen. Even to-day the glory of being a 'successor
of Gauss* has an almost irresistible attraction for mathemati-
cians who might easily earn more money in other positions, and
until quite recently GSttingen could choose whom it would.
The high esteem in which Kummer was held by his fellow
mathematicians can be judged by the fact that he was the
unanimous choice to succeed Diriehlet at Berlin* Since the age
of twenty-nine he had been a corresponding member of the
Royal Berlin Academy. He now (1855) succeeded Diriehlet ia
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